There have been a lot of movies about space lately including Hidden Figures, Arrival and Passengers. I’m not talking about that kind of Open Space. Recently I attended a three day “Facilitators Unconference” in Boulder. Can you imagine committing to three days without knowing what the agenda would be? No one, not even the conference planners knew what the topics and breakout sessions would contain. That was the beauty of the event. There was a flip chart that said “I Belong Here! And the conference leader said that sign was meant for each of us.

They created a structure and process that allowed anyone (from teenagers to seniors) to offer to lead a session if they had expertise or something to share. The audience of about 180 was then asked to gauge their interest in the topic. If a few were interested, it would be a lunch discussion, when more showed interest, that topic received a time slot and breakout room. Some people showed up ready to facilitate, others volunteered in the moment. There were multiple concurrent sessions daily. The energy was palpable.

Additionally, everyone was encouraged to state what they needed from the group, whether ideas, resources or contacts. The event design stretched some of us out of our comfort zone with group activities that ranged from icebreakers to singing and dancing together. I thought people would resist and was amazed at how receptive to new experiences everyone was. One of the highlights was a game of Simon Says. Really. Scott Gurst, a rocket scientist came to lead an amazing, empowering game of Simon Says. See how he does it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pXztEXMndM What powerful lessons were learned by engaging wholeheartedly in a variety of activities.

Open Space is a recognized facilitation tool that enables the group to create what it needs. It follows “the law of two feet” meaning, if you are in a session and it’s not meeting your needs, leave. Find something that will better meet your needs. No hurt feelings, no pressure.

I’ve led small Open Space sessions and found it a great way to explore what people truly have on their minds. It’s the ultimate audience engagement as everyone becomes part of the experience.

If you’re looking for someone to facilitate an upcoming meeting, whether it’s Strategic Planning to Open Space, please give us a call at 480-840-6024. We’d welcome the chance to make your next meeting memorable and productive.

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